Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Worry’ Category

Being Left Alone

English: An anxious person

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes things just happen.  Sometimes it’s a good thing.  Sometimes it’s bad.    There are things and people added to our plans – and sometimes things and people are taken away.  There are times of happiness, comfort and safety – But  then there is a time of desolation, hurt and loss.

No one wants to feel abandoned, isolated and left behind.  While it may not happen so much when we’re young – sooner or later it does as we get older.  The same comforts, circumstances and even people in our lives, that are with us when we begin our journey, or part way through our journey – sometimes do not continue with us the rest of the way.  It is the feeling of being “left alone”.  It is difficult to understand.  But it is called life.

This week we’ve been training our 14 week old puppy, Daisy to stay home alone – without anyone here.  Training her to wait – be patient – that we will come back again – therefore reassuring her, by our return that she is not being left permanently.  It is a training for us too as we do not want her to feel lonely, brush her aside like she is not important – but at the same time we want to reduce her anxiety by the fact that we will return.  It is difficult to explain that to a puppy.

In the same way – I wonder how much our earthly anxiety is a mixture of “unnecessary worry” and “childlike anxiety” simply because we do not understand our situation and circumstances like God does.  We don’t have the ability to wait and trust that God sees the bigger picture – and that it is only for a “season” and not “forever”.  I’m sure that God must say, “I know best.  I can see everything all at once.  Trust me”  But we miss it – because we’re too busy being uncomfortable at our own perceived feeling of “being left”.  And more than that – that God doesn’t hear us or understand.

There are some lessons that can only be learned without anyone with me.  Feeling that isolation is good for me.  In anxiety I learn trust.  In feeling abandoned by my overwhelming circumstance – I learn faith.  And I also want to remain hopeful that God has all the answers to the questions I have.  That there will be a time when I understand.

And until then – I must learn the same painful lesson that our puppy must.  Being left alone is sometimes how God speaks His most powerful insights to me.  It is in that lesson, that I am stronger, more compassionate to others, and ready for God to use me again.

When was the last time you feel completely alone?  When you lost something you thought you would always have?  Did you hear God speak to you?

 

God Bless

Finding The On/Off Switch!

A picture of a Toggle light switch.

Image via Wikipedia

I’m looking for a little switch that I’ve misplaced.  It should be a simple thing to find – but I can’t locate it.

My computer has such a switch – so does my desk lamp – my candle warmers and the lights all around my house.  If I don’t want anything on anymore – I just flip the switch – to OFF!

My mind used to have one of these – long ago when I was much younger and slept deeper.  These days I cannot find the switch that shuts off the endless conversations with unseen people and circumstances – they follow me into my dreams.

Last night Greg was out working very late and I tried to settle in, relax and go to sleep.  Again – I could not find the switch and everything in my mind was turned to ON!  And sadly, ‘ON’ means – nothing is quiet.  Everything is up for grabs – including different case scenarios for past events – and conversations with certain individuals I know I’ll NEVER have.  Somehow my mind tries to make up for the lack.  It gladly fill in the blanks on events that have no answers.  This can be good – and it can be VERY BAD.  Sometimes the imagination of the mind – leaves me feeling sad – because none of it is true.

I’d still like to find my ‘switch’ – and never lose it again.  I would turn it ‘Off’ when getting ready to turn in for the night – and then turn it to ‘ON’ when ready to get up – giving my exhausted brain a chance to recover.  *Sigh*

Do you have a ‘switch’?  Or have you misplaced it somewhere along the way, like I have?

In a perfect world – we would never lose that switch – and in a perfect world things would be solved, conflicts brought to right and everyone come to an understanding – and there would be no need for such a switch.

 

God Bless

Adventures with Mrs. Frantic (Alias: Mrs. Grumpy)

My upper and lower wisdom teeth, just extracted.

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This Saturday our 19-year-old son is having his impacted wisdom teeth removed.  And because I’m a glutton for punishment and have unresolved memories of the past – I’m going with him.  I say this because when my husband and I were newlyweds and still attending Northwest University (the former Northwest College) Greg had his impacted wisdom teeth out – all four of them.   Now just WHY he didn’t have them out before college OR before we were married – is a mystery to me – along with other mysteries of the universe.  *sigh*

I remember it well – even though it was some 28 years ago.  Greg was done with all his finals for that semester and scheduled his appointment accordingly.  However, I still had two finals to take.  We thought – no problem – I can just study while I wait for him to have the procedure done.  We arrived early in the day and as soon as we got there – Greg was whisked away behind closed doors of the Oral Surgeon‘s office in Bellevue – just a few miles from where we lived.

Because the teeth (all four of them) were impacted – they had to put him under with a general anesthetic.  The actual procedure was pretty short – but the recovery was long.

It seemed like I was in that waiting room for a long time.  The longer it took the more I couldn’t concentrate anymore – and was feeling a little anxious.  After what seemed like hours – I finally heard someone from behind closed doors – ‘hiccuping‘ – VERY LOUDLY.  I remember thinking, ‘how rude’.  But it persisted – and a nurse finally came out and asked me to come back.

I followed the loud ‘hiccuping’ sounds to a recovery room – and there was my husband – sitting up and being VERY LOUD!  If you know Greg – he is a very soft-spoken, kind and gentle man – does NOT like to draw attention to himself AT ALL and would rather die than to be obnoxious IN PUBLIC.  And yet – here he was – my inebriated husband – like he had a ‘snoot-full’. And VERY pleased with himself!

Well, because I had NEVER seen my husband drunk – much less TAKE A DRINK – it was really quite amusing and horrifying at the same time!  I became quite frantic – as a nurse and myself tried to help Greg out to the car – now pulled around to a side door.  They had given him a little bag to hold in case – well YOU KNOW – and he used it - often – while walking to the car – and after getting in.

I must admit – it put me in a state of panic.  The medical staff didn’t even bat an eye – perfectly normal they told me.  Really? What’s normal – a drunk husband holding a bag on his lap?  What a sick world.

So I’m now ‘driving’ in my state of frantic/panic.  I somehow managed to get on the freeway – don’t know how and then forgot how to get home.  I should mention that we were house-sitting that week for a missionary lady in another part of Kirkland where we were living at the time.  I had never driven there before – Greg always drove.  I had NO IDEA how to get ‘home’.  So naturally I sailed right by the right exit.  As I did – Greg looked up from his drunken stupor – with his head in the bag and like the ‘ghost of Christmas future‘ – just pointed out the window as the exit quickly disappeared from sight.

Well I finally found a place to turn around and somehow got us home.  He was pretty bad for the next 24 hours or so – couldn’t hold down anything – it was bad.  I had to have my mother come ‘sit’ with him – so I could go take a couple of finals.  I have no memory of taking them – and one I barely passed. Lesson learned.

When we could take the vomiting and over-all ‘green’ completion NO more – I called the doctor – who at first thought that Greg may have picked up a flu bug.  But the more it persisted they started digging into family history – and discovered that Greg was allergic to the anesthetic given him – as he had a persistent battle when he was a child with motion sickness.  This explained everything to the doctor and to us too – we were really worried.  But as the medication ran through his body and wore off – he was fine.

So here I am again.  28 years later.  I’m not sure why I’m the one elected to go with our son this Saturday to do this all over again. I’m sure waiting in the waiting room while our son is whisked off behind closed doors is going to feel a little like deja’ vu.  And when he comes out of it – am I going to hear the same thing before I see him – like father – like son?  I am going to be the designated driver – because if he is going to be a drunk like his father after having the anesthetic – then I should be there.   Someone has to.  And I have a little experience with this.  Sure hope I can find my way home. :)

God Bless

Safety In Numbers

Sueños rotos / Broken dreams

Image by Tomás Rotger via Flickr

Our pastor had another excellent message this morning on “How To Deal with Broken Dreams”.

I was aware of the fact, as he was speaking – that I have had a few dreams and things I thought would turn out differently from what they have.  I think if we are honest – we would all say the same thing.

And it is in a world of broken or unfilled dreams – that you and I can become restless and discouraged.  The most common reaction to heartbreak is to pull away from others.  To isolate ourselves and try to make it on our own.  This is when we need be very aware that when we are pulling away from others -  Satan can have a grip on us – catching us when we are weak and alone.  And pulling us down.

1 Peter 5 says this:

8-11Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.

I’m so glad He has the last word.  His hand of protection is always on me.  There is also ‘safety in numbers’.  When we rely on good council from strong Christian brothers and sisters – and are accountable to them – we are less likely to fall away – make unwise choices and stray off the path.

I admit – I like to pull away and be alone – it is in my nature to do so.  I’ve always been somewhat of a ‘loner’.  This is why – although I enjoy my friendships – it is always easier and more comfortable for me to pull away from the crowd.  Being in a married situation – and a mom  – took real discipline for me as a person – because many times when I would prefer to be alone – my circumstances were not conducive to it – nor would my family hear of it!  But my very patient husband was wonderful in understanding this about me – and at times when our children were very young – he would tell me he was going to watch them and that I could just go somewhere for several hours – to give me a much-needed break.

And although this may be a positive in many ways to like to be alone – and be able to refuel and recharge – it is not always healthy.  I need people – the friendships in my life are very important to me – so I have to work at them.  The things we value – we will make time for.  It is the same way in my marriage to Greg.  I value my time alone – but I also make time for him – because it is healthy for me to do so.  He keeps me grounded.  His love allows me to be who I am – and it is a safe place.

I have also learned that I have to let go of some of the strongholds in my life – people who haven’t treated me right – my chance for complete restoration with an old friend – etc., etc.  In letting go and not expecting anything in return – and in fact -  never seeing things the way I would like them to be.   I decided something today.  This is a ‘broken dream’ and I need to let go of it.  Period.  No more wishing and dreaming of the day that things will be put to right.  No more waiting to ask the questions and find the answers – to hear that I’m not crazy after all.  Just forgiving and letting it go.  Stephen said it so well this morning.  ‘Forgive and ask questions later’.  How simple this sounds.  How true it is.  But how humbling and challenging.  And yet – I know I have to lead my heart in this area.  I have to live with my own choices and my response to the way others have treated me.  I’m very aware that this puts me in a vulnerable position to NOT have those walls of protections around me – yes – I could be hurt again.  But it is a risk I’m willing to take – because it’s the right thing to do.

Colossians 3 says this:

15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Peace and thankfulness.  So much to be thankful for.  So much.

And so on this Halloween day – my prayer for you is the same.  Let go of it – all of it.  And God will bless you for it.  Forgive and ask questions later.

Here’s hoping and praying that you will do just that.  Stay close to God – and stay close to each other.

God Bless

A Mixture of Blues And Blahs

Broken heart sewn back together

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been trying to shake a feeling the last couple of days.  Oh nothing serious.  You know. The feeling that things are overwhelming and daunting.  Nothing really is – it’s just a feeling.

I call it a mixture of the blues and blahs.
The author Jaime Buckingham, knew what this was.  He said his wife had it once a month – he called it her, ‘once a month – nobody loves me’ period.  And I will agree that for us women – it sometimes is chemical – nothing more.  But I know a lot of men that feel this way too – so it has to be something more.  The heart feels broken and sad.

The ‘blues’ – what exactly are they?  Where do they come from?  Why do we feel like this?  Why can’t we just ‘snap out of it’?

I’ve never been one to stay ‘blue’ for very long.  My personality is pretty upbeat most of the time – I’d say I’m even-tempered and not ‘down in the dumps’ too often.  Even ‘grumpy’ very often – although I have my days like everyone else.

Elton John had a great song, “I guess that’s why they call it the blues” – and for some reason I can relate to those lyrics.  They speak about the human condition, relationships, feelings and emotions – the ‘blues’ – and sadness that comes from giving our heart away.

I think it’s healthy to recognize what brings us down.  For me it could be anything, really.  Trying to figure things out – that I know I never can – this can drive me crazy and bring me down.  Or worrying about things that may or may not happen – another thing that can bring me down.  I don’t consider myself a ‘worrier‘ but I can get ‘sad’ or ‘stressed’ when I can’t solve an issue.

Our pastor spoke about: ‘How to deal with worry’ on Sunday.  Great message.  If we don’t get a hold of my own worry (stress – or being uptight) – it will eat me up inside.  I know for me – I need to concentrate on Jesus – and what He’s trying to teach me through the ‘blah’ and ‘blue’ – yes – the sad days.   I hear Him so much better in these kind of days – than in the ‘sunshine’ days of my life.  When I’m ‘blue’ and ‘blah’ – I am still. And I can hear His voice so much better.

For me – it doesn’t work to just ‘busy myself’ with other projects and things.  Or even friendships.  I need to be alone with Jesus and let Him fill me up again.  And it’s nice to know that he will not scold me for not being busy or not getting my work done.  He wants me to spend that time – doing nothing.  Just sitting at His feet.  Taking Him in.  Letting Him penetrate my being.  Not worrying about what others will say.  Just stopping.  And waiting.  And being still.

He speaks to me in my writing as well.  It is like He just takes over and the words just flow.  The words that are helpful and give great insight to others – but mostly – they are for me alone.  Healing words of life and joy.

And I know – that in time – my ‘blues’ and ‘blahs’ will finally go away.  But not right away – not until He is done speaking to me – gently correcting me.  Making sure that my heart isn’t so sad that I will do and say the wrong things – or react out of pain and heartache – or even….revenge. Making sure that in my ‘blues’ I don’t start pointing my finger at someone else and blaming.  He works with my heart and motives and deals with me alone.  As long as it takes…And because I am stubborn and still want things and situations – my own way – it takes time.  I’m getting a little better.  But I still have a long way to go.

How about you?  What are your ‘blues’ and ‘blahs’ today?  Maybe – God is trying to speak to you through this.  Stop and listen.  He is there waiting in the silence and sadness.

God Bless

There’s An Elephant In The Room

Who is This? I remember the cartoon, but not h...

Image by Medusa's Lover via Flickr

There’s an elephant in the room.   No one talks about it.  No one dares.

We avoid

We run and hide

We joke

We tell stories

We change the subject

and still….

There’s an elephant in the room

This poor ignored elephant – one that used to be rather small – but because everybody refuses to acknowledge her presence -  she has become  rather LARGE!  You see – she has an inferiority complex. A Big one.  And she drowns her sorrow and disappointment in eating anything she can get her hands on.  And because people would rather walk around her – even tiptoe lightly – she has to try to stay invisible in the center of the room – and not trip anybody up.  Oh she has tried to get everyone’s attention at times.   She even tries different colors to wear so she’ll stick out more and be noticed.  I’ve even seen her painting her toe nails red – and then waving her hands and feet wildly in the air – but to no avail.  She even waved and winked at me one time too – I’m sure of it.  I just shook my head and smiled.  I mean – really – what else could I do?  She’s an elephant.

Poor, poor elephant.

I’m waiting for the day – when someone can’t take it anymore and jumps up and says, “Hey!!!  There’s a LARGE elephant in here!  Do you see her?”  But until that day….

We avoid

We run and hide

We tell jokes

We tell stories

and….

We change the subject.

No one likes an elephant – especially a LARGE one with brightly colored clothes and painted red toenails, Right?  This elephant could change everything forever.  And no one will speak up.  No one will take the risk. Better to ignore and pretend….

There’s an elephant in the room

Who’s In – And Who’s Not

We live in a culture where it is important to ‘belong’.  We have all been either ‘in’ or ‘out’ when it comes to the ‘clubs’ of our society – like church groups – country clubs – gyms or sports arenas.  Even as children we gravitate to those most likely to accept us and either start our own ‘club’ – or long to be with the ‘other kids’ who seem to have a better ‘club’ than we have.  We all want to belong.  We all want acceptance – even as children.  We want to be noticed and to ‘fit it’.  Sometimes sacrificing ourselves in the process – because being with the popular kids – or the ones who are ‘in’ is far superior to us than being on the outside looking in.

Unfortunately we have also done this as adults.  We’ve done it in our churches.  We’ve done it as Christians.

It looks something like this:  New person comes and joins my ‘club’ and now I feel threatened.  Maybe they will take something away from me.  Maybe my friends will like them better.  Maybe they will be funnier than I am – maybe they will be better than I am.

We had a situation years ago in our church – where we had a thriving music ministry – choir, orchestra and worship team.  This ‘club’ involved about 100 people on any given Sunday.  It was hard work to keep the thing going, new people were encouraged to be a part – but looked at somewhat suspiciously.  Eventually those involved took on the identity of the ‘club’.  When changes were made and even drastically cut down – those that thought they were ‘in’ were threatened and challenged.  Suddenly church did not become about the ‘big picture’ – or about new people finding Christ – as it became about the ‘club’.  It was their identity.

For years we have defined who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’ as far as our Christian faith is concerned.  Some feel it necessary to have a firm grasp on just who is accepted as part of the ‘club’ and those who are never welcomed in.  Those divorced, from a bad family, those involved in moral failure or substance abuse would not be a part of the club.  It was not said in so many words – but everyone just knew. I mean – ‘they really aren’t very spiritual, are they’?

Is is ever possible to really hate the sin – but love the sinner?  Do we put feet to this by allowing them into our ‘club’ – into our ‘world’ to break bread with us?

We live next door to a lesbian couple.  They are the nicest human beings you will ever meet – and though we ourselves think homosexuality is wrong and contradicts everything we know to be true as far as the Bible is concerned – we really like these ladies. We love them.   We know these women would be shunned by others of our faith and it makes us sad.  They would only see the shame and sin – they would never be able to see them.

We also know of others who are shunned, ignored and made to feel ‘out’ instead of ‘in’ – because of those judging them have much emotion – bad feelings or personal prejudices – nothing more.  They are judged on a feeling or on the physical appearance. Or because they don’t believe like we do. I think we have to be very careful – when we have a ‘club’ that is exclusive – and restricts because of small mindedness and agenda.  In doing so we give the silent message to all – “I’m better – I have the only truth – there is no other way to see it than my way”  This is dangerous indeed and it is how cults are formed – and why Hitler had so much power and influence over people.  It is wrong, wrong, WRONG!

We need to embrace people – especially those that are different from us.  There is much we can learn from other cultures and even other denominations.  I believe we may have a surprise when we get to heaven and find our Catholic brothers and sisters – even the Baptist and Lutheran standing beside us!  How small our little ‘club’ will seem then.  God sees the ‘big picture’ – he is not about denominational walls – he is about the heart.

Let’s not make the mistake of judging others – especially the heart and motive that only God can truly see.  He is the only judge – and in the end the truth will revealed.  Someday it may be revealed to us – that very person we don’t like – and that we’re not allowing ‘in’ to our ‘club’ – God is whispering, ‘they are my favorite‘.

Our job is to love, encourage and be an example to others of the love and acceptance that we received from Christ – when we stood before Him and said, “I’m in”.  Let’s bring a whole lot of others with us – as we change this dying world – with our love.

Who’s In?  You are. Remember – you are God’s favorite.

God Bless

Keeping My Eye On The Ball

Heard a great ‘message/personal story’ by new pastor Stephen Collins at LifePoint Church yesterday.  His main illustration and emphasis was about baseball.  He talked about how his Dad taught him at a young age to ‘keep his eye on the ball’.

If you play ball – or know anything about it from others who do – then you know that this advice from coaches is not just a suggestion – but a tried and true method in which you connect with the ball.  You take your eyes off – and you not only lose the possibility of connection – but you can miss altogether.  This is a great ‘life lesson’ as well.

There are many distractions in life – those things that can take our focus off what is really important.  Oh – sometimes they are really little things – hardly detectable by anyone else – but for you – they can mean the difference between having a ‘win’ – or ‘striking out’.

I believe that things happen for a reason.  Emotions and situations are neutral.  It is how I process them – and choose to react to them that makes the difference between a ‘win’ for me – or a ‘loss’.  When I understand this – I am able to find my focus and not let others distract me – or try to pull me to one side or another.  If God is truly the central focus of my life – and He is – then the ‘other things’ become neutral. My responsibility is to do what He asks me to do – nothing else.  That – for me – is ‘keeping my eye on the ball’.

In every heart – in our deepest part of our soul – we have a ‘God space’ – that no one else can go.  It is our ‘secret place’ with Him alone.  Others can not fill us up – it is for Him alone.  When we try to fill it with other things in life – or other people – thinking these things will be enough and satisfy – we are easily distracted and disappointed – become discouraged and can be depressed.  Especially when our self-worth depends on what others think and say about us or to us directly.  When we keep our eyes on Him alone - the rest does not matter – we don’t need man’s approval – or advice to make us feel better.  We can simply rest in Him.

I plan to ‘keep my eye on the ball’ – I will fail because I’m flawed and capable of really messing it up – but after I blow it – I will again pick myself back up and find my focus once again.  I know I will be distracted by ‘well meaning’ people who try to sway me in one direction or another – but my goal is to be secure in spite of these obstacles – and be confident enough in myself – even when others don’t agree – even when things are slipping out of my hands and my world is shaken – even when I don’t handle it right with people.  I want to be solid and unswayed in my belief that I only need to answer to God alone – and NOT take my focus off what I know He is calling me to do.

What is God calling you to do?  Do you stand alone?  Are there many distractions and troubles?  Is your heart heavy from the weight of it?  Welcome to the club!  Welcome to life. Hold on weary traveler – don’t lose your focus – or be weary in well-doing.  Keep your eye on the ball.

God Bless

How To React To The ‘Others’

Today I posted a status update that is a ‘take off’ of the Four Spiritual Laws as explained in this article – borrowed from Campus Crusade For Christ Ministries.  The first spiritual law is this:

“God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life”

Doesn’t that sound great?  When I seek Him and ask Him through prayer and constant open communication – He begins to reveal His plan for my life – gently probing into my inmost thoughts and bringing to mind a direction that I should take – sometimes a ‘stepping out’ beyond what I think I can do.  It’s called: faith. It’s also called discernment.

We have had wonderful people throughout our ministry life – and beyond speak over us – or call us to tell us something they feel God is saying to us.  One such trusted friend is a woman who has served as an elder at a church where Greg was a staff member for 13 years.  Her name is Lucille Johnson.  She would probably be embarrassed to know that I written anything about her – she is very modest and humble – always comes across in a positive and encouraging way – she is this way with everybody.  We respect her – and her ‘words’ of encouragement from the Lord – because she is always right on. A real prayer warrior – with no ulterior motives and no agenda.  She considers herself a vessel and lets God speak through her to encourage and lift up.  And you can always match what she says according to the Bible – the true test of whether someone is speaking from God – or from themselves.  I have also known a few others along the way who would pray over me or Greg and have a ‘word’ for us.  Same thing – always positive and encouraging.  This is how God speaks.  If it is negative or judgmental – it in NOT from God.  If it is contrary to scripture – again – NOT from God – no matter who is saying it.

But what happens when the first law looks like this:

“God loves you, and OTHER people have a wonderful plan for your life”

Those ‘other’ people can really mess us up.  And especially when it’s done under the ‘guise’ of spirituality – they tell you they have a ‘word’  from God Himself – the ultimate ‘trump card’ for any argument you could possibly offer.  By doing so you would appear ‘non-spiritual’ – ‘out of touch’ – and even ‘arrogant’. So you do what anyone in your position would do – you listen. But what if it makes you uncomfortable – is negative or judgmental – and you feel a personal agenda from the individual delivering the message to you?  Do you start to ‘bristle’ at the words?  Do you feel uneasy?  It is NOT from God.

I’ve had many such ‘other people’ in my life – throughout the years – trying to discern  ‘God’s will’ for my life.  Sometimes it was subtle – a glance or ‘meaningful few words’ – sometimes it was a ‘direct word’ – either through a ‘word of wisdom’ or ‘prophecy’ over me – or in some cases – (gasp!) even an email.  I am amazed at how ‘fear’ and ‘loss of control’ can be the instigator of such rubbish.  And even how Satan himself uses people to be a negative influence in my life.  Again – if it’s negative or judgmental – you detect  fear or loss of control from the individual delivering it – then just smile and walk away.  Wait to respond.  If you think it’s necessary to respond – and sometimes it is – make sure you wait and don’t respond out of defensiveness or anger.  If you wait a while – you will be able to rationally think it out and respond correctly if you even need to respond at all.

You wouldn’t believe the weird situations I have found myself in over the years – maybe you would.  I share the next two events with you – both of which happened MANY YEARS ago – to give you encouragement and hope when you go through a time in your life when things don’t make any sense to you and ‘others’ really try to mess with you.

I had a situation years ago – when Greg was earning his Master’s Degree.  We were involved in our local church and I was asked to be on a panel of judges because of my musical experience – to audition children for a musical – to be held at our church later that year.  I went into the situation completely unbiased – as I didn’t know any of the children personally.  The woman who asked me to be on the panel was the assistant director – and her son was auditioning for the lead role.  I did not know him personally.  I was unaware going in that the director DID NOT want me to judge – knowing I would pick the best kid for the lead role.  She had an agenda – another boy who was not as talented but that ‘deserved’ the part (and the Mom and Grandmother of the boy were highly influential in the church)  – it was purely ‘political’ – and I had walked into the situation COMPLETELY BLIND.  I was asked by the assistant director to be a judge – because she knew that I would choose based on ability – not popularity or politics.

Well as you can imagine – I chose the boy with the most ability for the role – both acting and singing  (he happened to be the son of the assistant director) – and was ‘out voted’ by the others on the panel.  It was strange to me and very upsetting – knowing I was just a pawn and not to be taken seriously – and the ‘other’ boy got the part.  The assistant director called me that evening wondering what had happened – and I told her.  I didn’t think it was a secret – BOY WAS I WRONG.  I was blasted by not only telling the truth – but the pastor’s wife called me to tell me how wrong I was in voting the way I did – and by defending my position.  She had been in the room for the judging (although she was not a judge) and told me I was wrong and had no business to have an opinion etc.  Her ‘word’ of correction for me was harsh – negative and carried a heaping spoon full of guilt and personal agenda (her son had been up for the lead as well – and got the second biggest part).  But if I had been more spiritual then I would have known all of this on the panel and would have gone along with the others – they were right – I was clearly WAY OFF.  It was ugly.  It was uncomfortable at church after that.  And although the pastor himself was very kind – to me and the assistant director – the damage had been done.  I remember calling the director on the phone after the pastor’s wife called me – and humbly asking her forgiveness for anything that was out of line on my part – and told her in my own words what had happened.  She admitted she never wanted me judging in the first place – they already had picked who they wanted in the lead roles – and my presence there was just a ‘complication’.

I would be lying to you if I said that all was forgiven and overlooked – and all was well after that – but it wasn’t.  We moved away soon after that – but the event has followed me and even hindered me from speaking my mind confidently for a long time.  And anytime I was asked to ‘judge’ anything after that – I would have to really think about it.  I always judge based on talent - not anything else.  I cannot be swayed politically.

Another example of a crazy thing that happened to me:  In the next church – when we were on staff – I was even accused of ‘having an affair’ with a man on our worship team – because – GET THIS – I sat next to him one time in Sunday School class – and when we were in a prayer circle in the back room before service – I once held his hand – because he happened to be standing next to me at the time.  You HAVE to hold hands if you’re in a prayer circle praying before service!  I know you think this is pretty silly – IT IS!  But his wife was deadly serious when she came up to me as I was starting to play for the service and said, “my husband will be available in a little while – we’re getting divorced so you’ll have your chance with him”  or something like that.  Well I was so rattled by this revelation – and right as I’m starting to play for song service too!  It was all I could do – to ‘hold it together’ until after song service – where I went to sit by Greg and wrote him a note.  He couldn’t believe it either!  Later it was discovered that the woman had serious disillusions and mental problems – I was relieved – but sad for her.  It was not the first time someone had been accused and would not be the last.  Again I didn’t seem to have any discernment in the situation and the pastor even tried to ‘down play’ it and in a weird way – because he would not stand with me – he acted like I was somehow to blame!  I don’t think he wanted to ‘rock the boat’ with that family.  It’s those kind of situations with ‘others’ that can truly make you feel as if you’re losing a grip on reality.  I wondered if the pastor actually believed her.  There was nothing done to ‘ratify’ me – or let me know that we were dealing with an unstable person – nothing.

And if you think these are the only two strange events that I have been involved in – think again!  I find that people are people – everywhere I go – their faces change but the situations are eerily the same - with a few things changed, of course.  And if I’m not careful – pretty soon I find myself being judged, misrepresented and being ‘corrected’ for things that are not my fault and that clearly involve ‘other’ people.
I tell you this because God is ultimately the only one who can judge and penetrate our hearts and souls – to find our real intent and motive for every ‘crisis’ in our lives.  “Others’ will be glad to give you their ‘knowledge’ and ‘expertise’ and even be quick to ‘judge’ without knowing all the facts and circumstances – but from my own experience – that ‘word’ or ‘advice’ from people can often times be self-serving and carry with it a hidden agenda based on ‘fear’ or ‘loss of control’.  We need to know and understand the difference.  We need to keep our heart right.  I cannot control what others think of me and that drives me crazy!!  But it is the truth. And I’ve had many more situations in my life since then – where well-meaning people have tried to ‘correct’ or ‘rebuke’ based on nothing but ‘hearsay’ and ‘fear‘.  So disheartening – it can cut me to the quick – if I let it.

My aim is to live with my own heart right. I don’t try to defend myself or my actions anymore to man – but talk it out with God – who is the only one who knows what the truth is – and He will liberate me in the end.  I am careful who I take ‘correction’ from – I shy away from those who do not believe that things can be forgiven and there can be a resolution to any problem.  Anyone that is human is capable of messing up – even pastor’s do.  They are NOT God.  And sometimes – hard as it is to believe – they can also be motivated by ‘fear’ and ‘loss of control’.  It is important to know and understand this – then you will not be disappointed when seeking godly council from a person in leadership – or what you consider to be a good strong Christian man or woman.  They can mess up – they don’t always get it right.  God is the only one we can trust – and we can take His word for us – TO THE BANK.

Who are you listening to today?  The ‘accuser’?  The person who is quick to blame without knowing all the facts?  The ‘judgmental one’ who knows more about what you should be thinking or doing than you do?  The one with the ‘hidden agenda’?  Those that have something personal riding on what you say, think or do?  A person who is fearful of losing control?

I suggest you listen to God alone – and rest in what He tells you through prayer and in His word.  His correction is always without ‘hidden motive’.  He loves with a pure agenda and gently advises.  His words will always be encouraging and lift you up – not tear you down to size.  He will always want the best things for your life – and work behind the scenes to bring those people and situations into your life to build you up – give you hope and a future!

And the ‘others’?  Pray for them.  Live by example.  The very best revenge for those people – is to NOT be angry but quick to forgive  – be encouraging and loving – accepting and gracious to them.  Be kind and considerate.  It will really irk them. ☺  And it will do you the world of good too!

God Bless

No Fear

Look fear in the face and it will cease to trouble you

Last night I couldn’t sleep.   It was a very warm day here in Seattle and even though it cools down at night – there was virtually NO breeze.  So I tossed and turned and by the time my late working husband came home from his night job – I was ready to get up move around and have a bowl of cereal in the ‘wee hours’.

As we sat in the dark in the cool downstairs family room – we started talking about the subject of ‘fear’.  Fear is an interesting subject – it is different for everyone.  There are things that I’m afraid of – water over my head for instance – that would not bother someone else.  I have what you might call a ‘phobia’ about being in water and not being able to breathe.  Others would say, “how ridiculous! – just SWIM and hold your breath when under water!”  Easy to say if you’re a great swimmer and have no fear.

Others we have known have had a fear of heights.  I personally do not.  I know that I’m not going to fall off a high building – unless I jump and I’m not going to do that!  So to me – that is an unrealistic fear – based in fantasy and not reality.  But to people afraid – they are paralyzed with it. Another big fear:  Spiders.  I know they can look menacing and even some of them will bite – but most are harmless.  And yet many people – including my own daughter – are deathly afraid of them.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Again – you’re not going to die – but to them they would rather die then have one of those ‘many legged’ creatures crawl on them 0r even next to them. And the fear of being in a closed in space – very real to some – again this is not my fear.  The wall is NOT going to close in on them – nor suffocate them – but they are really afraid they are.   It’s not real.  I say – just close your eyes and breathe deeply and open your eyes!!  Nothing is coming for you!  Easy for me to say, right?

What we fear most often will not ever happen.

I believe that Jesus came to this earth – walked among us – taught his disciples, died on a cross and defeated death and the enemy to give us this great message of hope:  There is NOTHING to fear.  And if we keep our eyes fastened on Him – confess our weaknesses and our fears to Him – He will gently assure us – not think we’re silly or weak – but help us to feel safe. Just like a Father will comfort his children when they are afraid – so our loving heavenly father draws us to himself – scoops us up and allows us to be comforted and embraced.

I pray that today – if there is anything that you are facing, dreading and fearing – that you will allow your Heavenly Father to whisper comfort to you.  That He will show you that there isn’t anything you will face that will overwhelm you or beat you down so far that He will not find you – reach for you and walk with you – in your darkest days – even then.  I pray that you will not allow fear of the unknown to swallow you or cause you to lose your joy.  That you would walk confidently through the journey that you are on – that you will embrace the people who have been put in your path to make the journey more tolerable and help to ease your heavy load – and to remind you – there is no fear.

God Bless

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